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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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Catecholamines in Blood


A test for catecholamines measures the amount of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the blood. These catecholamines are made by nerve tissue camera.gif, the brain, and the adrenal glands. The test also may measure the amounts of metanephrine and normetanephrine.


The normal values listed here-called a reference range-are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Catecholamines in blood 1

Lying down:

Less than 110 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) or less than 599 picomoles per liter (pmol/L)

Standing up:

Less than 140 pg/mL or less than 762 pmol/L


Lying down:

70-750 pg/mL or 381-4,083 pmol/L

Standing up:

200-1,700 pg/mL or 1,088-9,256 pmol/L


Sitting or lying down:

Less than 30 pg/mL or less than 163 pmol/L


Sitting or lying down:

Less than 0.50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L)


Sitting or lying down:

Less than 0.90 nmol/L

High values

  • High levels of catecholamines, vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), or metanephrine can mean that an adrenal gland tumor (pheochromocytoma) or another type of tumor that makes catecholamines is present.
  • Any major stress, such as burns, a whole-body infection (sepsis), illness, surgery, or traumatic injury, can cause high catecholamine levels.
  • Many blood pressure medicines can also cause high catecholamine levels.

Low values

Low levels of catecholamines usually do not indicate a problem.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Doing physical exercise.
  • Having extreme emotional stress.
  • Having surgery, injury, or illness.
  • Taking certain medicines, such as aspirin, nitroglycerin, tricyclic antidepressants, tetracycline, theophylline, or some blood pressure medicines.
  • Using nicotine, alcohol (ethanol), or cocaine.
  • Taking nonprescription cough, cold, or sinus medicines.
  • Eating or drinking foods with caffeine.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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